International project “History begins in the family: Dialogue of generations” to be launched for the third time. The specific of the project this year is its online format. In October, 30 young people from Poland, Germany, and Ukraine will take part in the training program, after which they will continue their research work in their families under the guidance of a mentor. The online course is preceded by an introduction to the national teams, and at the end of mid-December, there will be a session on the presentation of the carried research. Participants will post the research on the website project www.dialogue-of-generations.org.
National team coordinators are preparing internal meetings in late September. The online program will start on October 1 and will include 10 sessions lasting 3.5 hours. During the sessions, young people will explore the role of family history in creating a national and international culture of memory, will be able to virtually see the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Poland, the Bergen-Belsen Memorial in Germany and the places of remembrance in Lviv, Ukraine. This will be an incentive to reflect on and rethink the role of such places in the national cultural context. Elaboration of educational literature, work with various sources, conversation with an eyewitness, practical exercises in groups will reveal the life stories and fates of families affected by the Nazi policy of extermination and occupation in Europe, as well as the Soviet occupation. We will focus on the memory of World War II with a special emphasis on National Socialism, the Holocaust, Stalinism, and the postwar years. We will also discuss how states, communities, and individuals deal with the past today. The organizers and mentors of the project will help the participants to conduct research and present the results, as well as create a space where everyone will be able to share memories, observations and reflections on what they saw and heard.
Participation in the project is free of charge. The number of participants is limited. The organizers will conduct a competitive selection based on the submitted applications.
Detailed information on participation:
- for candidates from Ukraine (English);
- for candidates from Poland (Polish);
- for candidates from Germany (German).
The online program will be sent to participants.
The project is implemented by the International NGO “Foundations for Freedom” as part of the program “Ukraine Action: Healing the Past Programme”, the International Youth Meeting Center Oświęcim/Auschwitz (Poland) and Lower Saxony Memorials Foundation/Bergen-Belsen Memorial (Germany) with the support of Deutsch-Polnisches Jugendwerk (German-Polish Youth Office) within the grant program “Let’s Save the Memory”, as well as with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany.
Comments of the project team
“This year I am participating in the project as a co-coordinator. In the past, I was involved as an expert in developing a historical quest for World War II memorial sites in Lviv and in organizing a meeting with eyewitnesses, former political prisoners of the Nazi and Soviet totalitarian regimes. What impressed me the most from previous experience? Participants’ empathy and desire to understand the Other. Their eyes are filled with questions and are thirsty for answers, their energy of interaction. We now face many challenges, which are also opportunities. We moved from a partnership format to a close teamwork format. Otherwise, you will not be able to implement a joint program online. It is also encouraging that the online format is close to young people and greatly simplifies the conditions for their participation. We do not stop, so we are ready to gain a new experience of online learning together, and then meet offline and continue to build bridges of international cognition and understanding.”
“To my mind, the most valuable element of the project is the work on researching and documenting family stories. It shows young people that working with history can be exciting and informative. The historical facts they learn from textbooks at school age can be seen from a completely different perspective. Holding archival photos, letters, documents, or recording interviews with relatives, it is much easier for them to “come back” to those times and understand better what traces National Socialism and Stalinism left in the fate of their families’ persecution. Dialogue on this topic in an international group makes young people from Poland, Germany, and Ukraine sensitive to differences and conflicts in cultural memory. It is not easy to have such a dialogue in the digital space, but we hope that the online program will be good preparation for joint visits to memorial sites next year.”
“In our project young people from three countries get to know each other. They build trust, which is important to deal with complex and emotionally challenging topics such as National Socialism, Stalinism, and World War II. It is very exciting to learn what meaning this time has in their life and from which perspective they look at the different places of remembrance. Our project also offers participants the opportunity – sometimes for the first time – to explore and share their family history. International encounters are particularly important in times of restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Even if we cannot replace the real exchange and visits to the memorial sites, I hope that we will nevertheless create a good framework for mutual learning and encounter.”
“In the current context, I see the need to support what happened before the pandemic and to try to experiment with new formats to meet the demands more effectively. These are both formats of partnership, and formats youth work, and formats of development of our abilities as an international team. We really have a lot of challenges: different levels of use of online methods to work with target audiences, fear of making mistakes, careful approach to planning activities, as well as quite complex decision-making processes. There is a fear of not finding participants and not keeping their attention on a rather difficult topic, which becomes secondary due to the pandemic challenges. However, the development of our partnership in the new realities, the ability to transform the curriculum into an online format, bridging the distance and developing horizontal intercultural ties within families, micro-communities and among the youth of these three countries through dialogue on complex past themes are those important achievements of the project which we have already noticed.”